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More than two million British households unable to afford electricity bills may decide to disconnect from the grid without informing their suppliers, the chief executive of a power utility said, as quoted by Bloomberg, today.
This would lead to illnesses and deaths, Bill Bullen, the CEO of Utilita Energy, said, and urged fellow power utilities to avoid this by changing old electricity meters with smart meters. Smart meters are connected to the supplier and can detect when a client is not using any electricity.
“Unless the customer has refused a smart meter, there’s no excuse for legacy meters to exist today,” Bullen said after a survey that his company conducted among 750 households.
“Having no choice but to sit at home without heating or light is unacceptable, and our government and the regulator must intervene immediately to stop self-disconnections.”
The issue certainly looks urgent as colder winter weather settles in across Europe. What’s more, the forecast is quite alarming as well: the UK’s Met Office said this week that the latter half of December will see a higher chance of frost and fog, along with below-normal temperatures and spells of wintry precipitation.
“We’re helping people already making desperate choices to keep bills down, like turning the heating off despite having a health condition,” said a representative of UK consumer group Citizens Advice.
In the meantime, Britons are facing considerably higher electricity bills after the latest adjustment of the price ceiling for households and government subsidies amounting to some $20 billion are clearly not enough to cushion the blow.
According to National Energy Action, as many as 8.4 million Britons will slip into poverty next year, after the new price cap kicks in, in April 2023. It was announced a week ago and represents an almost twofold increase in current electricity prices.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.